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Ceviche opened last year to great reviews – and with it, Peruvian food hit the culinary map in London. The small dishes, bold, stunning flavours and buzzy atmosphere (and apparently the cocktails are great, but I went at lunchtime…) has ensured that the restaurant has been packed ever since. And for gluten-free folk, Peruvian food has the added attraction of being the homeplace of quinoa (yep, that’s where quinoa originated). Step in and mention that you’re gluten-free and/or dairy-free and they don’t bat an eyelid. Our waitress went through the menu methodically, and even gave me a marked-up menu of what I could and couldn’t have.
True to its name, the main star of the restaurant is Peru’s national dish of fish marinated in lime, salt and chilli. You’ll find Don Ceviche (seabass marinated in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk), Wasabi Ceviche (seabass in wasabi tiger’s milk), Chacalón (mushroom and sweet potato), Alianza Lima (mixed seabass, mussels, prawns and octopus), Drunk Scallops (king scallops marinated in pisco, the Peruvian white brandy) – all of which are gluten-free and dairy-free. (And there’s also Sakura Maru, but that’s salmon with soy sauce.) I had the Don Ceviche (mainly because I loved the sound of the name) and it was completely delicious. Wonderful bold, punchy flavours explode in your mouth – and the combination of citrus with spicy notes works brilliantly with the firm yet tenderized fish.
But it’s not all about ceviche. On the menu you’ll also find South American staples such as plantain chips and corn bites, as well as rice and potato cake dishes, all of which are g-f and d-f. Then there are Grilled Skewer dishes (I had the Salmón Rosado which was a lovely combination of marinated salmon with a sweet cucumber and rocoto pepper pickle salad) – and these, too, are all g-f and d-f. And there are hot dishes such as Lomo Saltado (beef fillet, flame cooked) and Arroz con Pato (confit duck in coriander rice) – but beware of these as they all contain dairy and/or gluten.
The star, for me, though, was the Ensalada de Quinoa. Seemingly a simple salad of quinoa, tomatoes, avocado, butter beans and coriander with lime and limo chilli vinaigrette, it was a brilliant marriage of textures and flavours. And when it arrived, it looked extremely pretty. The roughly-blended avocadoes provided a soft base to the mixed textures of the quinoa, tomatoes, beans, onion and coriander. And the mingling of the sour, spicy and sweet tastes of the lime/limo and chilli vinaigrette were fantastic. In fact, it’s worth going to Ceviche, just for this dish alone!
You’ll find Ceviche at 17 Frith Street, Soho. They also run masterclasses. And this summer Ceviche goes on tour. Starting on July 1st the team will be taking Ceviche in a ten date tour visiting restaurants and locations including The Ethicurean near Bristol, Mark Greenaway in Edinburgh, Rick Stein’s Padstow Seafood School, Moshimo in Brighton, The River Café in North Shields and Mr Scruff’s Teacup on Thomas St in Manchester among others.
Intermittent fasting hit the headlines last year, and hit fever pitch when Horizon broadcasted a programme by Dr Michael Mosley called Eat, Fast and Live Longer, which was watched by two and a half million people. IF is based on the premise that short periods of fasting enable you to shift weight and change shape – but the really incredible thing is that apparently it can radically transform your health as well. Scientific research shows that this age-old practice (dating back to the Ancient Greeks, as well as yogic traditions) of fasting for short breaks of time lowers the levels of a hormone called IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) and, in doing so, protects you from some of the major diseases, including cancer. It has also been shown that IF has potent anti-ageing benefits, and helps reduce inflammation which, in turn, helps with conditions such as eczema and asthma.
It’s a diet that is extremely easy to put into practice. There are 3 types of IF. You can follow the 16/8 plan – and eat healthily for 8 hours and fast for 16 (in other words either skip breakfast or dinner). Or you can try the 5/2 plan – and eat healthily for 5 days of the week and follow a 500-calorie diet for the other two. The final plan is the most full-on and least popular of all the plans – whereby you fast for one day and then eat healthily for the next. This is called alternate day fasting.
Sounds simple? It is! And that’s probably the main reason why it has become so popular so quickly. You choose the plan that seems right for you and then simply fast when you’re meant to. And when you’re not fasting, you eat healthily. A few IF diet books have been published recently, including one called Eat, Fast, Slim by Amanda Hamilton. The beauty of Amanda’s book is that she shows you all the types of fasting but also shows you how to ensure it’s a superhealthy diet for you. It’s important to ensure that you balance the types of food you’re eating, and especially that you get enough protein and nutrients during the plan. Amanda explains the diets, and explains what you’ll get out of them. And then gives you Fasting Plans and a whole load of mouth-watering recipes.
I tried the Grilled Salmon with Harissa Quinoa and it was delicious. The lime-zesty salmon along with the harissa-spicy quinoa was a great combination. And the colours and textures of the food were lovely. Hmmm I think I might even try this IF dieting!
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 1 Preparation time 5 minutes Cooking time 15 minutes
- 140g/5oz salmon fillet
- zest and juice of ½ lime
- 40g/1½oz/scant ¼ cup quinoa
- 1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 3 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced
- ¾ courgette, diced
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- lime wedge, to serve
- Put the salmon on a plate and rub the lime zest over the flesh, then sprinkle with half the lime juice. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Put it in a saucepan and cover with 160ml/5¼fl oz/2⁄3 cup boiling water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Brush the grill rack with oil and preheat the grill to medium. Put the salmon on the grill rack and grill for 5–6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and the flesh is opaque.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the spring onions, courgette and harissa paste, and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften. Remove the pan from the heat, add the quinoa and its cooking liquid and toss to coat with the harissa. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed, then fluff up with a fork and stir in the coriander and remaining lime juice.
- Serve the salmon with the quinoa and a lime wedge on the side for squeezing over.
The Free-From Food Awards Shortlist has just been published. Set up six years ago by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson of freefromfoodsmatter.com, these Awards celebrate the innovation and imagination shown by the food industry in creating foods for the free-from market (ie foods that do not include one or more of wheat, gluten, dairy products, eggs, yeast, soya and sugar.) It’s worth mentioning the website Foods Matter here… Originally a magazine offering information and support both to food allergic/intolerant consumers and to the health professionals caring for them, it went on-line in 2010 and has become the most awesome reference site for people with food allergies/intolerances or coeliac disease (logging over 13 million hits per year!)
I took part in the judging for a day and was hugely impressed with the whole process. There were 11 of us that day and we blind-tasted every entry in our categories in silence, making notes and scoring each one out of ten. Once we had finished, we discussed every entry and then came to our conclusions as a group. This done, we could look at who had produced what. During the day I was there, we covered Breakfast Cereals and Grocery Ambient, including pastas, sauces and condiments.
It was great to taste so many of the entries. Some of them (especially some from outside Britain) I hadn’t come across before. And it was fascinating to sit there, tasting pasta after pasta, cereal after cereal etc against each other. The variety of ingredients, and combinations of those – and the resulting tastes and textures – were really interesting. The results of the awards will be announced in April…
One of the products we tasted was especially interesting. Shortlisted for the Pasta Award, the Slim Noodles were a subject of a great deal of discussion. Recently launched, it is gluten-free and it claims to deliver not only a feeling of fullness, but also an unbelievably low calorie content (7.7 calories per 100g serving). Made from a vegetable extract called Konjac (or Konnyaku) which has apparently been eaten in Asia for centuries because of its health benefits, it expands in your stomach, leading to the sensation of being full for up to four hours. Zero fat, zero sugar, low-calorie and low-carb, it’s currently being hailed (along with a very similar product called Zero Noodles which is made of exactly the same ingredient) as the answer to weight loss for many, many people. What’s more, independent studies apparently show that it can help increase insulin in your blood sugar levels, making it great for diabetics, and can help lower cholesterol. Wow!
Slim Noodles comes in three different guises – Slim Pasta, Slim Rice and Slim Noodles. The Slim Noodles – and Zero Noodles – look very similar to glass noodles and thin rice noodles in that they are white-coloured and very thin. They have a slightly rubbery texture (the Slim Noodles I find more so than the Zero Noodles) and almost no taste. I tested these at home this weekend with a recipe (see below) and they both worked really well with noodle-style recipes, such as stir-frys and Asian-style dishes. I haven’t tasted the Slim Rice yet but the Slim Pasta was very similar to Slim Noodles – just thicker, apparently more like a pasta-shape. I’m not convinced about the concept of Slim Pasta, though, as it doesn’t work for me as something that would work with pasta sauces, such as tomato-based sauces, and there was a slightly ‘fishy’ aroma to these, I thought.
You’ll find both the Slim Noodles and Zero Noodles in health food stores. In Holland & Barrett the Slim Noodles sell for £2.49 and the Zero Noodles (organic) for £1.99. They’re the same size – so go for the cheaper Zero Noodles if you’re looking to try the product!
Steamed Asia-Style Fish with Zero Noodles
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 2 Preparation time 10 minutes, plus at least 1 hour marinating time Cooking time 12–15 minutes
- 2 fish fillets, such as salmon, trout or cod
- 2 large salad onions or 6 spring onions, white part finely chopped
- stir-fry vegetables, such as beansprouts, pak choi
- 2cm/¾in piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 lemongrass stick, finely chopped
- 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 large handfuls of coriander leaves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 serving of Zero Noodles, to serve
- Put the fish in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or jug and pour over the tuna. Cover with a lid or cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
- Spoon the marinade into a large wok and heat over a medium-high heat. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the vegetables and then place the fish on the top. Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot with the prepared Zero Noodles.
This wonderfully delicious recipe is from Beverly le Blanc’s new book, The Big Book of Soups. This book is literally brimming with an incredible variety of soups for all seasons and all occasions – whether you’re looking for a light soup for lunch outdoors on a summer’s day, or a thick, creamy, comfort-soup for when the weather turns cold and rainy.
I love this soup because it tastes great, and is full of nutrient-dense ingredients. Watercress is a true superfood – containing more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than an orange and more iron than spinach! Shiitake mushrooms have been used as both food and medicine in Asia for thousands of years and is currently used in Japan to treat many conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome. And kombu (in the dashi) is packed with minerals and phytonutrients that help detoxify your body and relieve many ailments.
You can either make dashi yourself (see below for the recipe) or you can buy it ready-made from Japanese stores or from the internet. Just in case you need some instructions because they might only be in Japanese(!) you normally dissolve 2 teaspoons powder in 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups water. You can get vegetarian versions, made without bonito (fish flakes). This recipes also uses another very Japanese ingredient, daikon, which is a long white crunchy vegetable from the radish family, with a light, peppery punch similar to watercress.
PREPARATION TIME 20 minutes, plus making the dashi COOKING TIME 30 minutes MAKES about 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups
- 400g/14oz watercress, any thick stalks or yellow leaves removed
- 280g/10oz thin rice noodles
- 2l/70fl oz/8 cups Dashi (see below) or prepared instant dashi
- 10cm/4in piece of daikon, peeled and finely grated
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 750g/1lb 10oz salmon fillet, small bones removed, and fish cut across the grain into 1cm/½in thick slices
- 12 shiitake mushroom caps
- 280g/10oz firm tofu, drained and cut into 12 cubes
- 200g/7oz enoki mushrooms, stalks trimmed
- tamari soy sauce, to serve
To make Dashi:
- 25cm/10in piece of dried kombu
- 10g/¼oz/²⁄³ cup bonito flakes
- To make the Dashi, put the kombu and 1.4l/48fl oz/5½ cups water in a saucepan and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- Bring to the boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, skim the surface, then add the bonito flakes. Skim the surface again, if necessary. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Strain the dashi into a large bowl and use immediately. Alternatively, leave to cool, then store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Freezing isn’t recommended for more than 2 weeks as it will lose much of its flavour.
- (To make Vegetarian Dashi omit the bonito (fish) flakes in the above recipe. Instead soak 8 dried shiitake mushrooms in 1.4l/48fl oz/5½ cups hot water for at least 30 minutes. Put the mushrooms and the soaking liquid in a saucepan. Add the kombu and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Slowly bring to the boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, skim the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve, and use the dashi as above.)
- To make the soup, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, and bring another saucepan of unsalted water to the boil. Boil the watercress in the salted water just until the leaves wilt, which will be almost instantly. Drain and immediately rinse under cold running water, then drain again and set aside. Meanwhile, boil the rice noodles in the unsalted water for 6–8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until tender. Drain and immediately rinse under cold running water and set aside.
- Put the dashi in a saucepan, cover and bring to just below the boil. Meanwhile, mix together the daikon and chilli in a small bowl and set aside. Just before the dashi boils, reduce the heat to low, add the salmon and shiitake mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to your liking. One minute before the end of the cooking, add the tofu and enoki mushrooms and simmer until the enoki are tender. Season with salt.
- Divide the noodles into bowls and top with the salmon. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the watercress, mushrooms and tofu into the bowls. Ladle the dashi over them and serve immediately with small bowls of tamari soy sauce and the daikon and chilli mixture on the side.